Who is she?

Have you ever had the feeling that you were at rock-bottom with no where to go? Stuck at your lowest point and feeling like a huge boulder was weighing you down? Wrought with so much despair that you couldn’t even will yourself to move?

I felt this way the day I found out about HER. The other woman in Husband’s life.

After Husband left the house that day, I sat in the dining room slumped over the table in a heap, unable to move, unwilling to move. Luckily for me, or more so my kids, my best friend Daisy came over to make sure they were fed and had everything they needed before they settled down for bed.

I was left a complete mess at the news of Husband’s ‘friend’, as he referred to her. How could Husband do this to me? To us? Why did he find comfort in another woman? Was our marriage really that bad? Was I that shitty a wife? I just needed to know why.

But no matter how many times I cried out “Why?” I wasn’t going to get my answers that night. Even banging my fists against the table wasn’t going to help. The only thing screaming and pounding on the table did was allow me to release the pent-up rage inside of me.

And Daisy let me rage like a banshee. She just sat quietly and watched me until I was eventually reduced to uncontrollable tears.

I definitely needed it. I needed to lash out and get all the shock and anger out of my system. The faster I did this, the faster I could get to the business of finding out who SHE was.

And it didn’t take long for me to find out. With the help of the super-sleuthing abilities of my girlfriends Daisy and Penny, I found out that SHE was someone who Husband went to high school with. She was recently divorced and was a regular at Husband’s restaurant/bar. She was the girl who Penny had questioned me about just a few weeks before.

But she was also a girl who had a bit of a reputation in her high school days which carried over well into her adult years. She was someone who Husband and his friends had once considered a lost cause. She had a baby in her senior year in high school and wasn’t even quite sure who the baby’s father was. How in the world could Husband find pleasure in her company? Why her? Did he not remember what kind of reputation she had in high school? Did he really want to be associated with that kind of person? As crazy as it sounded, even I was embarrassed for him.

Regardless of her bad reputation though, this woman had Husband’s attention. He found something in her that he couldn’t find in me.

Now shouldn’t this have been my queue to give him the old heave-ho? Show him the door and never let him back in?

I think 2017 me would have done just that. But 2009 me was weak. Afraid. Scared to mess up our perfect little family of five. Willing to do anything in my power to keep our marriage and family intact. This was when I let Husband take control of the steering wheel and decide which path our marriage would take. This is when I basically gave him permission to march around town with this other woman while I sat at home like a good wife waiting for him to come back.

This would be one of many mistakes that I would make in the following months. Mistakes that would shape who am I today and why I feel like I’m not fully healed from Husband’s infidelity.

Even after all these years.

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The Day My World Turned Upside Down – Part 2

I was on auto-pilot when I dropped the kids off at school that morning. I drove as quick I possibly could, wanting nothing more than to get back home in order to finish my interrogation of Husband.

But something shifted inside me when I was just a couple blocks away from my house. Instead of turning onto my street, I continued straight ahead in the direction of our neighborhood playground. I pulled over and paused to take a breath. My mind and heart had been racing since the minute I received “The Text” and I just needed a few minutes to gather myself.

I then dialed my girlfriend, Daisy*, and told her everything. The shock in her reaction was evident but I was glad that she remained silent as I re-counted that morning’s drama. The minute I was done speaking, Daisy went into detective mode and told me to check our cell phone bill. I explained though that I would have to check with my sister, Rica*, who at the time was the primary holder of the family share plan Husband’s cell phone was part of.

“What are you waiting for then? Call Rica now.” Daisy urged.

Rica wasn’t forthcoming with her assistance though. When I asked her if I could see the past few months’ cell phone statements, Rica told me that she felt it would be an invasion of Husband’s privacy if she just let me see his cell phone activity. Never mind that I was his wife and in the middle of a marital crisis. She suggested that I do the right thing and get this information from Husband. Even after I told her that Husband wasn’t cooperating, after I told her this was probably the only way I was going to get any information, after I told her that I was desperate, Rica still insisted that this information had to come from Husband.

I can’t say I was surprised at my sister’s loyalty to Husband. My entire family loved him. All my friends adored him. We used to joke about them liking him more than they liked me. I didn’t have a problem with it. But at that moment, Rica had to know that it was me who needed her loyalty.

Unfortunately, Rica insisted I work it out with Husband without involving her or her cell phone bill. He’s a reasonable guy, she told me. He’ll cooperate.

There was no cooperation coming from Husband that morning. When I got back home, I found him sitting in the living room, refusing to talk. I begged, pleaded, even knelt in front of him imploring him to talk to me and tell me who the other woman in his life was. He remained defiantly silent, staring back at me with stone-cold eyes. It wasn’t until I threatened to get a copy of his cell phone bill from Rica that Husband spoke.

“Go ahead.”

Just two words. But two words said with so much anger and hatred. It threw me and I second-guessed my behavior. But it didn’t take long for me to remember that he was the one at fault.

An hour later, I was sitting in Rica’s living room combing through Husband’s cell phone activity from the prior three months. (Yes, Rica finally gave in when I told her I was getting no where with Husband.) It didn’t take long for me to see one number over and over and over again on Husband’s bill. Early in the morning, late at night, all times throughout the day. This number appeared on the bill more than my number did. My heart felt like it was going to pulse right out of my chest when I specifically checked the activity during the week of our SoCal family vacation. Husband was having phone conversations with the owner of this number the entire time we were on vacation. The entire time. And for 2-hour long stretches late in the evenings.

I was shook to my core.

I stayed at Rica’s house for the remainder of that afternoon. I just couldn’t with Husband. How could he have betrayed me and the kids in this way? To steal away time from us and our family vacation to busy himself with someone else? Why did he even agree to go on vacation with us when his mind was clearly going to be somewhere else? And there was no way he’d be able to tell me those conversations were with one of his employees at his restaurant.

Eventually, I had to go home to face Husband. It was late in the afternoon and Husband would have picked the kids up from school by then before leaving for the rest of the evening. I timed it so that I arrived back home just when he was going to leave. I caught him when he was putting on his shoes in the basement which was perfect. The kids were upstairs away from earshot.

I slapped a piece of paper with the phone number sprawled on it against his chest and demanded to know whose number it was. He crumpled the paper into his fist and said plainly, quietly but with so much vile, “She has nothing to do with our problems.”

And there I had it. Confirmation that there was another ‘she’ in Husband’s life.

I will admit that even thought the signs were already there, I stood there astounded as if it was the first time this idea crossed my mind. I silently listened to my husband’s diatribe against me.

“She is a good friend of mine.”

“She helps me with my problems that you create.”

“She’s been a friend since way before we were married.”

“She is not the reason are marriage is f*cked up.”

She, she, she was all I heard.

When I found my voice again, I demanded to know who ‘she’ was. Was I expecting Husband to reveal her identity? Nope. And did he? Of course not. He did warn me that I, as well as my “f*cking friends”, needed to leave her alone because she had apparently told him that her phone was blowing up with all the calls she was getting from, well, me and my f*cking friends. I freely admitted that we did inundated her with our calls. Of course we were going to do this. Is it any surprise that we did?

We didn’t find out her identity though. She didn’t answer our calls nor did she have a personalized outgoing message. Since husband wasn’t cooperating, I moved on to my next request.

“Will you please stop seeing her then?”

I reasoned that our marriage didn’t stand a chance if he was going to continue to see this woman because he’d be comparing her, the good friend, to me, the shitty wife. Husband neither agreed nor disagreed. Just grabbed his jacket and keys and headed towards the door, ready to leave me with so many questions unanswered.

I followed closely behind him because there was one last burning question that I needed to know before he left.

“Are you going to see her tonight?”

Husband sighed with irritation and told me no. He would be going to the restaurant and that’s it.

I’m not sure why I believed him. I knew he said this just to quiet me. Besides, there was no way he would ever admit where he was really going.

I liked to think that I was better off staying in the dark and not knowing the truth. There was no way I would have been able to handle knowing that Husband would in fact see her that same night and that he would continue to see her for many nights after.


*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

The Day My World Turned Upside Down – Part 1

I wasn’t looking forward to writing about this part of our story.

It was the day I found out about HER. The Other Woman. The Third Party.

It was a typical day for us. Well, typical as per our living arrangements.

It was just after 6:00am. I was quickly getting ready, applying my make-up and getting into my outfit for the day. Mornings were the only time I actually interacted with Husband so I always made sure I was putting my best foot forward during the few moments that I had with him. I had just changed into my work clothes when I heard my phone vibrating.

I picked up the phone and saw that it was a text from Husband. I looked at the text and did a double-take. I read it one more time and all the air rushed from my lungs.

Aww, baby, I’ll see you tonight though.  

There were 2 problems with this text.

  1. In those days of our separation, there was never a “tonight” for Husband and me.  Nor did we make any plans to see each other on that particular night either.
  2. While Husband and I did have a term of endearment that we used to address each other, “baby” wasn’t one of them.

With his impeccable timing, Husband stepped through the front door as I was reeling from this unexpected text. I immediately shoved my phone in his face and demanded an explanation. He looked at my phone and without flinching, calmly said, “I didn’t send that.”

I repeat. Husband said that he did not send that text to me. Even when the text was clearly sent from his phone, he denied it. He denied it then stepped past me and quietly strolled towards the kitchen.

My entire body trembled as I followed him through the house. Husband set his phone on the counter and I immediately reached for it. Husband whipped his head around, this time with a sense of urgency and a touch of fear in his eyes.

“Go ahead. Be that kind of wife.”

I put his phone back down. I wasn’t that kind of wife. Silly me. Husband immediately grabbed his phone the minute I set it down and tucked it safely into his jeans pocket.

So I once again turned back to my phone and shoved it in his face asking him to explain. If he didn’t send that text which clearly came from his phone, then who did?

He continued to insist that it wasn’t him.

Back and forth we went as quietly as possible because the kids were stirring awake at this point. Me, pressing for an answer. Husband, denying any knowledge of the text when it was so clear that he was caught red-handed.

This was devastating. It was the first time Husband ever blatantly lied to me. The first time I ever looked at Husband and felt like I was looking at a stranger. The first time since our talk that there was evidence making him the bad guy in our marriage and not just me.

And Husband was not making it easy for me to confirm this evidence.

Fortunately for him, the time came for me to drive the kids to school. But unfortunately for him, that’s when I kicked it up a notch and made some phone calls. Getting to the bottom of the mistaken text was a priority for me. With the help of a couple of super-sleuth girlfriends, I got the answers that I was looking for.

The Family Vacation from Hell

Our family often took trips to Disneyland in Southern California. From the time our oldest daughter was 2 years old, we made it a point to visit the Happiest Place On Earth at least once a year. That year was no different.

The only thing different was Husband. Even though he agreed to the trip, he just wasn’t into it. His body language, his demeanor, the way he talked to me — all of this told me that he didn’t want to be there. I was just thankful that he attempted to be his usual self with the kids.

Husband was also on his phone a lot. And I mean, a lot. Especially at the end of the long day when we were back at the hotel. I initially chalked it up to him talking to someone from the restaurant as his employees often called him in the evenings right before closing time. But when he told me he was going to get a couple of sodas from the vending machine and didn’t come back for an hour I started to wonder. On another night when he told me he was going to the convenience store which was literally about two blocks away but then ended up being gone for two hours I was really suspicious.

You know what I did though? Nothing. I stayed quiet. Didn’t complain, didn’t do a single thing. Just bottled it up inside.

Husband’s strange behavior continued through the last half of the trip when we traveled south to San Diego. Looking back on it, I don’t know how I made it through those days without imploding. I’m guessing that the kids helped to keep me sane. I was just glad that they remained blissfully ignorant to their dad’s strange behavior.

On the eight-hour drive back home to the San Francisco Bay Area, Husband and I barely spoke. Just small talk here and there. Me handing him my credit card when we stopped for gas. Him telling me what he sandwich he wanted from Subway. It was not like us to have this kind of sterile conversation. But that was par for the course on this ill-advised family trip that we took. I probably would have been better off just taking the kids myself. If I thought that the trip would have a positive effect on our marriage I was severely mistaken.

We arrived back home just after 10pm in the evening. We were barely done unloading the car and settling back in when Husband began changing his clothes and telling me he was going to the restaurant.

“What’s the rush?” I asked him.

He immediately went on the defensive.

“Because there’s a party there tonight and they need my help to close.”

That got me riled up.

“Really? You can’t just leave it up to anyone else to close tonight? Aren’t you supposed be on vacation? Do they really need you? Aren’t you tired?”

Oh I didn’t end there. I insisted that he stay home so we could talk about our weird vacation and more importantly talk about our marriage and how we were going to right the ship. Even after he continually told me no and that he really need to go in to work, I kept pushing.

This ultimately led him to lash out and yell, “I need to get away from you!”

After I picked myself and my heart up off of the floor, Husband and I had the first of many tumultuous arguments to come that would end in him storming off angry and me left in tears.

For obvious reasons, I would like to take that family vacation from hell and erase it from my memory. It represents the beginning of the post-infidelity phase of our marriage when I didn’t even know Husband had cheated. Whenever I think about that time in my life, I cringe at how weak I was and how I let Husband get behind the driver’s seat in deciding which way our marriage was gonna go while I stayed quiet in the passenger seat.

But I can’t take it away from my memory. I can only learn from it and use it to my benefit in becoming a better person.

In the coming months, Husband would give me many “opportunities” to become a better, stronger person.

Arrangements

I don’t know whether Husband was just supremely persuasive or if he pulled some kind of Jedi mind trick on me but whatever it was he sure had me convinced that I was the sole reason why our marriage was in shambles that fall of 2009.

I can just imagine how pathetic I sounded to my closest girlfriends with whom I confided in. Even when they told me not to be so hard on myself and that Husband should take some ownership as well, I insisted that it was all my doing. One of my girlfriends, who I’ll call Penny*, asked me whether I suspected any infidelity at that point recounting a time when her husband, Derek (one of Husband’s best friends since high school), was at a bar with for guys night out and a mini high school reunion, when Husband arrived with a certain lady friend and then also left with this certain lady friend.

You’d expect that any normal wife would be livid about this information, yes? Well, noooooo, not me. I discounted the suspicious nature of this event explaining that this certain lady friend, who also went to the same high school, must have been at Husband’s bar at closing time then got a ride with him to the reunion and then because Husband was such a kind person, he also gave her a ride home. Besides, I told Penny, this was the kind of thing that Husband did all the time for his friends who visited him at the bar. He was just super nice in that way. On top of that, Husband never gave me any reason to be suspicious nor was I a suspicious type of wife.

Anyway, long story short, I blew Penny’s theory off. I’m asking you though, dear readers, to keep this theory in your back pockets. It comes back to haunt me later.

So there I was, completely at Husband’s mercy, willing to do whatever he wanted and agreeing to anything he asked for. I really believed that it was the least I could do. He wanted space, I was going to give it to him. He wanted us to still be under the same roof, fine. Weird, but fine. I was fortunate enough to land a 9-to-5 job within 2 weeks of the talk so as strange as staying under the same roof seemed, it actually worked out. He would be at home during the daytime while I was at work. I would be home in the evenings with kids while he was working at the bar. As far as sleeping arrangements went, he said he would sleep either at the bar or his parents’ house (which is right next door to ours) then come home early enough to take the kids to school when I left for work.

We repeated this day in, day out, night in, night out for the next couple of weeks. I was on my best behavior trying as hard has possible not to get in his way. Our kids were oblivious to anything different happening because they were already used to being asleep well before Husband came home and Husband always made sure to come home long before they woke up in the morning. In the kids’ eyes, things were normal and we wanted to let them keep thinking that way.

But things were far from normal. Any attempts to keep them normal were useless. But I persisted. I even suggested that we still go on our planned family trip to Southern California at summer’s end. I told Husband that the trip would probably do us some good and he agreed.

Big mistake.

That particular family vacation was the worse vacation we ever had.


*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

 

The Talk

I remember the day like it was yesterday.

Me, sitting on one end of our dining room table. Husband, leaning against the wall across from me. The space between us heavy with tension.

I remember the words that Husband used to start our much needed talk.

“I’m just not happy with this marriage and I don’t know what I want anymore.”

He then proceeded to air his complaints about our marriage.

  • Our financial status – Even though we both agreed that I would be a stay-at-home mom at least until our baby girl was a year old, Husband was having second thoughts about it. My lack of income was causing a strain in our finances that Husband was no longer comfortable with.
  • My refusal to disclose our true financial status – Well, it wasn’t so much my refusal to disclose our true financial status but more that I kept certain bills and debt from Husband. I know it was wrong of me to do this and keeping this information from him had no benefit. I have no explanation of why I hid it other than a bit of embarrassment and feeling like if I got myself into a financial mess, then I’d figure out how to get myself out. He would never have to know nor would he ever find out. Unfortunately for me, he found out. As the saying goes, a secret never stays a secret for long.
  • Our intimacy (or lack thereof) – I will be the first to admit that since our youngest was born, being intimate with my husband shot to the bottom of my priority list. Can you blame me though? I was home all day caring for the kids and maintaining our household. I was super tired by the time Husband would come home at the wee hours of the night/morning. Sex was the last thing on my mind. This contributed to Husband’s dissatisfaction.

“Is that it?” I asked.

“We can fix all of that.” I assured.

“I’ll start working again to help relieve our financial distress. Having an income will also help pay down my secret debt. We’ll have sex everyday.”

I was desperate to make Husband see that I could make him happy again. Just a few minor changes and we’ll be back to normal. Everything would go back to peachy keen.

But Husband wasn’t having it.

He told me it was’t going to be that easy. His dissatisfaction with the marriage didn’t happen overnight and couldn’t just be turned off with the flip of a switch. He just needed time to think.

That’s when I asked him if there was another woman. I had to. With an incredulous look on his face, Husband responded with a flat out “no” and clarified that his issues had nothing to do with another woman. His issues had everything to with the woman he happened to be married to and the fact that he was no longer happy being married to her.

I was devastated.

It might have been an easier pill to swallow if he admitted then that there was a third party. Instead, he let me think that I was a shitty wife and I was to blame for his unhappiness. And there was nothing I could do about it besides give him the time he needed to think and the space he required to clear his mind.

Anything, I told him. Anything he wanted and needed to get us back to normal. I would do whatever he asked and agree to whatever he requested. Notice how we never once talked about whether or not I was happy in the marriage?

And that was the beginning of my biggest problem. I gave him total control. Everything on his terms. I mean, I was the shitty wife, wasn’t I?

Wrong. Little did I know that Husband had been pretty shitty, too.

Before the Storm

It was the summer of 2009. I was, for all intents and purposes, a stay-at-home mom. It was something that I wanted to be from the time my oldest daughter was born. But living in the San Francisco Bay Area made it a little difficult. Not that it was impossible. One of my best friends was a stay-at-home mom of 3 boys living in San Francisco and she was able to make it work for herself and her family. There were some sacrifices that she needed to make like no more monthly mani-pedis and lots of cooking at home just to name a couple. As much as I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, I just wasn’t ready to make those sacrifices.

But there I was, now with three children under the age of 10. At the time, my daughter was 9, my son was 6 and my baby girl was 10 months old. Prior to giving birth to my baby girl, I was working outside the house 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. But we made the decision for me to give my SAHM dream a go. It was a little tough tightening up the purse strings when my kids were so used to little treats like getting some Baskin Robbins ice cream or catching the latest Disney flick or popular children’s movie showing at the local theaters. Even though our budget was tight, we were still able to splurge every so often.

Husband was busy running a restaurant/bar which took him away from the house 5 nights a week, sometimes 6 if there was a party at the bar on a Saturday night. Formerly an IT Technician working for a major telecommunications firm, Husband was in year 4 of his restaurant/bar business. Owning a restaurant/bar was a dream he had and after a stressful year at working in Corporate America coming home stressed out practically everyday, I made the suggestion for him to quit his job to pursue his dream. At the time we only had 2 kids and we determined that we’d be able to make it on my income only but he had promised to work hard to get his restaurant up and running as soon as possible. Within a year of quitting his job, Husband was able to open the doors to his restaurant/bar with 3 of his friends as partners.

So back to the summer of 2009…

Husband, who usually came home late anytime between midnight and 2am, was now starting to come home even later. We’re talking between 4am-5am. When it happened one, two, three times, I didn’t really trip off it. I figured these were one-off events and besides, Husband always gave me a reason why he was coming home late which actually made sense to me. Also, I wasn’t the nagging type of wife. I understood the business that Husband was in and if he had a good reason for being late, I accepted it. No questions asked.

But then things started to go a little sideways. First of all, when Husband would come home, he’d fall asleep in one of the kids’ beds. Secondly, his coming home so late was starting to impact our family activities during the day. As in, he would stop participating in family activities because he was too tired. Thirdly, he started to become defensive in the morning after I asked him why he came home late the night before. And lastly, he became more distant with me and things just didn’t feel right any more.

Do you guys know this feeling?

To say it sucked is putting it mildly. We continued on this way — Husband coming home in the wee hours of the morning, Husband missing family activities, Husband getting more and more defensive and angry — for several weeks. There were no signs of improvement either. Where I was once proud about Husband and my fighting styles and our ability to get through any issue, I suddenly found myself in unknown territory. Whenever we would argue about his behavior, I felt as if a stranger was my opponent. Someone who had so much anger and hatred in his eyes whenever he looked at me. I didn’t know what I did to make him hate me so much but you can bet I wanted to find out right away.

The problem was that Husband wasn’t willing to cooperate. He wanted no part in figuring things out or talking through our problems. So day in, day out we keep rolling along acting like nothing was wrong, giving off the appearance to our kids and everyone around us that we were a happy couple. No one could tell that being around him everyday was like walking on eggshells.

Then one day, Husband was ready to talk.

And nothing could have prepared me for what he had to say.